Chloe Lee, Razzamataz Chester franchisee, is currently on maternity leave and is looking forward to returning to her business that allows her to work flexibly around her family
What inspired you to set your business up?
I completed my professional dance and musical theatre training at the Merseyside Dance and Drama Centre, Liverpool and then worked for Razzamataz Overseas and as a teacher for three years at the Chester school.
I loved teaching but wanted a bigger challenge so when the opportunity came to take over the Chester school, I jumped at it.
Razzamataz has given me the balance of work and home life that I wanted. It’s given me financial security, I was profitable within the first month, and the chance to really make a positive impact on the lives of the young people in our area.
What would you say is unique about your business?
• As well as offering excellent training in the performing arts, we are a real community school.
• We make sure that we are fully inclusive and can give equal opportunities to all. Many other local theatre schools audition students to be in the show but we believe that every child should have the chance to shine.
• We make a huge effort to know our students and families at a personal level, which has been lovely over lockdown. I’m now pregnant and so many of our families are checking in with me to see how I’m doing.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
• We managed to pivot the business to teaching online very quickly and successfully.
• However, it did have its challenges. One of our students really struggled with the dance online and found the coordination difficult and began to lose confidence and wanted to quit. I gave her virtual one to one sessions to support her and over time her self-belief grew. Her mum recently sent me a video of her nailing the dance and doing full online routines. The whole experience was very powerful in demonstrating resilience.
• Over lockdown, we did many fundraisers, including for Chester Zoo, which found itself really struggling due to the pandemic. The students dressed up for the day on zoom in animal costumes, many of which they had made themselves. It was lovely to see their creativity and we ended up with enough money raised that we could adopt an animal. Chester Zoo is a real pillar of our community so now we can say that we played a part in ensuring its survival.
• We stayed connected with our families that didn’t take part in the online classes by posting lots of dance challenges on social media, the T-shirt challenge and lots of free fun activities.
• Before lockdown, our greatest achievement was being part of the cast at the Razzamataz gala West End performance at Her Majesty’s Theatre. It was such a huge deal for our families and inspiring to be part of.
Do you have any plans for your business for the next five years?
• We loved making a difference to Chester Zoo so we will be looking at getting involved in more charities when we are able to.
• We have the venue that will allow us to continue to grow and we already have plans to expand our Minis and Junior classes.
• We know children have found lockdown very challenging so we are really excited to be able to offer the Life Skills Programme. Participation in the performing arts can improve a child’s prospects for whatever they want to do and we will be working on all of these important life skills in the next few months.
How do you deal with challenges?
• Personally, this year has been challenging for me. I’ve had to cancel my wedding twice and being pregnant in lockdown comes with a number of additional worries.
• Throughout this year, I have learnt that you have to take every day as it comes; you can have a down day but the next day you must pick yourself up and look at ways to drive your business forwards.
• I was very young when I took on the business and although I’ve learnt so much, it is important to never stop learning.
• Having a brand such as Razzamataz behind me has given me the confidence and opportunities to keep learning, keep providing wonderful opportunities for my students and keep the faith when challenges come my way.